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Wilmette committee tackles zoning ordinance tweaks

Wilmette Trustee Alan Swanson, who heads the board's land use committee, reviewed Wilmette's old  zoning map last July with Lisa Roberts, Assistant Director of Community Development. Swanson and his  committee are still tweaking the village's newly revise
Wilmette Trustee Alan Swanson, who heads the board's land use committee, reviewed Wilmette's old zoning map last July with Lisa Roberts, Assistant Director of Community Development. Swanson and his committee are still tweaking the village's newly revise

After years of review and effort, Wilmette trustees this year approved an overhauled zoning ordinance that went into effect in April. That doesn’t mean that the ordinance won’t require tweaks, however, as members of the village board’s land use committee learned this month.

The committee had to decide whether sections of one residential neighborhood, which had been placed in a slightly more compact zoning designation than it once had, actually needed to be reclassified back into its original, more spacious, zoning.

Members Alan Swanson, Mike Basil and Ted McKenna eventually decided on July 15 that they’d recommend doing just that to colleagues when the issue goes to the full board.

The neighborhoods in question lie in west-central Wilmette, in two adjoining sections of what the revised zoning ordinance has labeled R1-C zoning ­— single family zoning that is smaller than the most spacious R1-A zones. The R1-C zone sits between Ridge and Illinois roads to the east and west, and between Kenilworth and Beech avenues to the north and Lake and Elmwood Avenues to the south.

The two areas inside the zone that committee members needed to consider re-labeling include one section that sits between Elmwood and Lake avenues to the north and south and between Illinois and Hunter roads to the east and west; the second is bounded by Thornwood Avenue on the north, Harper School to the east and Illinois Road to the west and south.

Community Development Director John Adler told the committee his staff realized they should look at the two areas only after getting an inquiry about a subdivision along the east side of Illinois Road.

R1-C zoning allows for moderately sized lots of 50 feet in width and up to 6,000 square feet in area and building styles that resemble the type of homes seen in the nearby Kenilworth Gardens area of Wilmette. R1-A zoning allows for larger and taller houses, on lot sizes of up to 60 feet in width and a minimum of 8,400 square feet.

Most of the lots in the two small areas his staff looked at a second time are larger than those in the rest of the R1-C zone, but the homes in surrounding areas fit the R1-C building styles. Adler suggested that the village could either return the lots to an R1-A designation or create a new sub-district.

“If you want the most flexibility, I’d say go to R1-A,” he said.

McKenna asked if returning the areas to the more spacious designation could cause any hardships for property owners, but Adler said the reclassification could actually provide more flexibility for owners.

Such zoning map tweaks weren’t unexpected, Adler said, given the size of the revision project. “When we were administering it, we knew we were going to have make adjustments as time went on,” he said July 16.

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